Insight Turkey
Insight Turkey
Challenging ideas
On Turkish politics and International affairs


Şener Aktürk

Koç University
Şener Aktürk
Turkey’s Grand Strategy and the Great Powers
December 14, 2021
How compatible is Turkey’s grand strategy with the grand strategies of global great powers? This article briefly summarizes principles of Turkish grand strategy, both from a descriptive and normative point of view, and then proceeds to outline and compare the grand strategies of five great powers that are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). While there are some observable conflicts between Turkey and the French, Russian, and American proxies in Syria, Libya, and the Caucasus, there are no outstanding militarized conflicts between Turkey and the British proxies. China is also positioned against Turkey in several international conflicts including Syria, and the intense persecution of Turkic Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang adds another dimension of latent Chinese-Turkish conflicts. The article provisionally concludes that the Turkish grand strategy seems to be most compatible, or least incompatible, with the British grand strategy, followed by the U.S. grand strategy, among the five permanent members of the UNSC, whereas Turkish and French and especially Russian grand strategies seem particularly incompatible.
Relations between Russia and Turkey Before, During, and After the Failed Coup of 2016
December 13, 2019
Increasing cooperation between Russia and Turkey date back to the 1990s, and go beyond the preferences of a specific political party or leader. A number of geopolitical interests pitted Russia and Turkey against one another in neighboring regions. The escalation of PKK attacks in Turkey starting in July 2015 and the failed coup attempt of the Gülenists in July 2016 motivated Turkey to seek closer relations with Russia as the United States became an increasingly unreliable actor in the context of Turkey’s fight against the PKK-PYD and the Gülenists. Likewise, Russia’s dependence on the Turkish Straits as its main supply route to its bases in Syria, Turkey’s role as a key customer of Russian natural gas and grain, the goal of breaching Western economic sanctions, as well as consolidating Russia’s internal security, all motivate Russia to seek closer relations with Turkey.
Turkey’s July 15th Coup: What Happened and Why
September 16, 2019
Evaluating an edited book written by twelve authors with significantly different points of view on one of the most critical events of recent Turkish political history in a brief book review, is a daunting task if not an impossible mission.
Why Did Europe Conquer The World?
July 10, 2017
As its name suggests, this is a book that attempts to answer one of the greatest historical puzzles of all times: Why did a couple of Western European states conquer the world? It is indeed a stunning fact that Western Europe, which was an unenviable backwater of the world in the early Middle Ages, ended up gaining “control of 84 percent of the globe” (p. 2). Judging by Figure 1.1 in this book, Turkey, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, China and Thailand may be the only countries in the world that were never under direct European control, if we take into account the British-French takeover of the remaining Arab regions after World War 1 and the American occupation of Japan and Korea after World War 2.
Turkey’s Civil Rights Movement and the Reactionary Coup: Segregation, Emancipation, and the Western Reaction
July 1, 2016
Turkey went through a civil rights movement, or a “silent revolution,” under the AK Party governments between 2002 and 2013, in which the legally sanctioned segregationist measures that had previously structured the country’s political and social order were gradually abolished. This civil rights movement allowed for the public expression of religious observance and ethno-linguistic distinctiveness, thus elevating the status of previously denigrated religious conservatives and ethno-linguistic minorities to the level of equal citizenship. These reforms deprived the Gülenists and the PKK of their raison d’être. The PKK offensive in July 2015 and the Gülenist attempt at a military coup in July 2016 can be interpreted as the most violent reactions to-date against the non-violent civil rights movement Turkey went through under the AK Party governments.
Toward a Turkish-Russian Axis? Conflicts in Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine, and Cooperation over Nuclear Energy
October 1, 2014
This article analyzes Turkish-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War (1992-2014) from a neorealist perspective, while highlighting relevant analogies and major turning points. Georgia (2008), Syria (2011--), and Ukraine (2014--) crises have has been detrimental for the two countries, mutual economic interests with strategic significance, such as the increasing importance of Turkey as a potential reseller of Russian natural gas, have sustained a high level of cooperation between the two countries.
September 11, 1683: Myth of a Christian Europe and the Massacre in Norway
January 1, 2012
This essay critically approaches the impact of September 11, 2001 attacks in galvanizing the myth of a Christian Europe, a myth that provided the ideological justification for the recent massacre in Norway. The myth making around the failed Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683, an event that provided the inspiration for Anders Breivik’s fifteen hundred pages long anti-Muslim manifesto, 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, comes under scrutiny. The author argues that Europe has been, not only a Christian, but also a Jewish and Muslim continent for many centuries, using examples from the centuries-old history of Islamic civilization in France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Spain, among other European countries. The author draws attention not only to the total annihilation of historical Muslim communities in places such as Sicily and Spain, but also to the nearly total eradication of Islamic religious heritage and architecture in these countries.
The Ties that Bind: Accommodating Diversity in Canada and the European Union
April 1, 2010
“The Ties that Bind” is an edited compilation of European and Canadian authors discussing the issue of “Accommodating Diversity” in Canada and the European Union. The analysis employed is both normative and empirical. Certain chapters focus on the normative debate of the merits of accommodating diversity from an ethical, philosophical, and moral point of view. The empirical chapters analyze the causes, consequences, and effectiveness of different policies implemented to this end. Also, certain chapters provide comparative analysis of multiple EU member states, while others focus on one individual country, such as Canada, Britain, and Spain.
The Turkish Minority in German Politics: Trends, Diversification of Representation, and Policy Implications
January 1, 2010
This article looks at the impact of Turkish voters in German politics since the 1980s with a special attention to the latest elections in September 2009. While Turks were almost entirely connected with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, the 1980s witnessed the rising appeal of the Greens among immigrants in general and Turks in particular. This was followed by the success of Turkish candidates in the Left Party in the 2005 elections. The latest elections in September 2009 witnessed a further diversification of Turkish representation as the SPD, Greens, Left, and the (liberal) FDP each sent a Turkish member into the Bundestag, while the CDU/CSU remained the only party without Turkish representation at the federal level. Despite persistent under-representation in the political arena, and some obstacles against their acquisition of citizenship and religious observance, the Turkish minority in Germany still registers a higher level of political presence than the Muslim minorities in France and Britain.

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